Read Lenny's Bayliner 285 Boat Test Notes
VIDEO BOAT REVIEW TRANSCRIPT
Is there such a thing as a single-engine cruiser that can accommodate half a dozen people for a weekend? That gets decent performance, and that costs less than $100,000? Bayliner says their 285 fits the bill.
To find out if we agree, we spent a few days on this one, on the Tennessee River. Since cabin accommodations are really make or break on a cruising boat like this, let's start down here first. Right over here we have a dinette that folds down into a berth for two. Stowage underneath. Up here there's a nice size berth with a privacy curtain that can be pulled across. And over here there's a full galley. Sink, microwave, one burner stove, a refrigerator, and there's also a nice stowage area under here with a couple drawers.
To help us understand the concept behind the 285, we have Pat Blake here from Bayliner with us today.
Pat, tell me, what's the most important thing about this cabin?
Interview with Pat Blake, Bayliner Boats
Pat: Well Bayliner's all about natural lighting. So many boats you get inside and you feel like you're inside a cave. We have two big windows on the side, we have two big hatches up top, we have another large hatch up here behind us, a couple hull windows, and all that natural lighting comes in it creates just a tremendous feel of space.
Performance Is a single mag 350 mpi Mercruiser enough power for an 8,000 pound boat? You know, often boats that are designed to meet a certain price point, they come underpowered. But that really isn't the case here. At a 4000 rpm cruise, we made 24.3 mph, and we hit a top end of 38. Now, let's see what happens when we hit the throttle. Okay, so it's not exactly what you would call "hot out of the hole," but for a day of cruising around on the river or lake, it really has plenty of power.
Construction The 285 is based on a box beam stringer grid system. Now the stringers are filled with foam that has some sound-deadening properties as well as helping to strengthen and stiffen. Now there's also a nifty shield that they placed over top of the battery charger to prevent water from dripping down on it. That's a nice little added touch. One of the things I noticed in the engine room that I really liked is how all the deck drains are plumbed to drain right here into this section of the transom where the outdrive couples in with it. That's a really good move because that eliminates a whole lot of thruhull fittings that would normally be on other boats. And while we're down here, this is a really good time to take note of the fact that access is wonderful. Not only am I down here, but there's a guy with a really big camera right there! While the engine compartment is a case study in great access, the helm? Not so much. Now it's a nice helm station; they've got it gray to reduce glare, there's plenty of room for extra electronics, but there's no access point to get behind this helm. So if you want to add anything or change anything, or work on any gauges, you're gonna have to remove these panels, pull them out, and then fight the wires as you go underneath. Another way to service the helm is to remove the entire gray panel.
After two days running around this river, one thing I've learned is this helm bolster is very comfortable. You can make it into a nice big seat, or you can flip it up and use it more like a leaning post. There's a nice comfortable passenger's side seat that even has a grab handle under here so you can hold on while you're riding. Now you lose the ability to have stowage under here by building the mid-cabin up, but of course that's more than a worthy trade off. Ready for lunch on the hook? You have this nice dinette table here in the aft cockpit, that pops right out and stows in a compartment underneath the engine hatch. So it's completely out of your way. Now when you're getting ready to prep up those drinks for that lunch on the hook, you come over here to the wet bar. You've got a sink and a refrigerator. Up on the bow of our test boat we found a couple of nice cushy sunpads with grabrails. And up front, a windlass with foot controls. And check out how nice and sturdy this bowrail is.
Let's take a look at a little bit of history. Between 1991 and 1994, Bayliner sold one out of every cruisers retailed in the entire United States. That's a lot of boats, and Bayliner remains a top-selling brand today. There are a lot of reasons why, and you can see them in the 285. It might not be the fanciest boat in the world, it might not be the fastest. But it gives you accommodations for a half a dozen people to go on an overnight trip. You don't have to spend a second mortgage to get one. If you're interested in a boat of this type, this one definitely belongs on your list.
Lenny Rudow has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades and has authored five books. He runs his own web site at HookedOnFishingBoats.com and writes weekly for Boats.com reviewing new models and covering marine electronics.